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Gay bathhouse closed after owner found dead

Will Red Door Steambath reopen on Granville Street?

The Red Door bathhouse is located in the building owned by the Ambassador Hotel on Granville Street near Davie. Credit: Vincent Matak/Daily Xtra

A bathhouse on the edge of Vancouver’s gay village may be closed for good after its owner was found dead in late July.

Red Door Steambath, which branded itself as a “safe and discreet place for horny ‘no strings’ encounters” closed indefinitely on Aug 2, 2016, following Vancouver’s Pride celebrations.

At the time, its website announced it would reopen under new ownership in September, but as of Aug 5, 2016, the site shows only a blank page.

Red Door is located at 121o Granville St, near Davie Street. (Vincent Matak/Daily Xtra)

Its closure comes after owner Jeff Fraser was found unresponsive in downtown Vancouver near Helmcken and Burrard Streets around 5am on July 25, according to Vancouver police. Fraser was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. He was 52.

The cause of his death can’t be determined until toxicology results are released by the BC Coroners Service, says police spokesperson Constable Brian Montague.

But an investigation and an autopsy indicate that foul play isn’t suspected, and Fraser’s death isn’t being treated as suspicious, Montague says.

Angela Sosnoski, regional coroner for the ministry of public safety and solicitor general, says she can’t provide further details until Fraser’s next of kin is notified.

Jeff Fraser’s profile photo from his Facebook page. (Facebook)

Fraser’s ex-wife, who declined to provide her name for publication citing concerns over Fraser’s will which has yet to be reviewed by lawyers, says she called the police after Fraser went missing on July 24.

She says she would like to see the bathhouse reopen. “It’s a great thing to keep open in Jeff’s memory,” she tells Daily Xtra via phone.

“Jeff worked really hard to get a clean, safe space to change society, getting over their fear and judgement,” she says.

She claims staff met with lawyers to see if they could take over the business, but have since backed out as of Aug 4. She’s uncertain now if Red Door will reopen.

None of Red Door’s staff responded to requests for comment.

The space occupied by Red Door is owned by the Ambassador Hotel, a low-priced lodge above the bathhouse. A woman who identified herself as the landlord when approached in-person at the hotel by Daily Xtra says she’s willing to allow current staff to take over the lease, as long as there isn’t “any trouble.”

“It’s not like we’re trying to shut it down. When I received the news [of Fraser’s death] it was a shock to me,” she says.

“But who’s the one going to be on the title? Who’s going to be responsible for anything that goes wrong? At the end of the day, if something happens we become liable,” she says.

She refused to provide her full name when requested.